According to local ABC affiliate WMTW8, the Equality Community Center (ECC) has launched a $4 million capital campaign that has already reached $3 million to build an affordable housing complex geared toward members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Located in a former bank building on Casco Street in downtown Portland, the ECC is home to 11 non-profit organizations committed to highlighting and serving LGBTQ+ community issues.
“It’s a newer trend across the country and we’ll be just the second LGBT-centered affordable housing complex in New England. There’s one being built in Boston right now,” Chris O’Connor, executive director of the Equality Community Center said.
The report said a 54-unit housing complex of affordable units for older members of the LGBTQ community is being planned for the site which is currently the parking lot next door to the community center.
“Affordable housing in Portland is critical, giving folks access to resources in the downtown Portland community making sure people can maintain a quality of life while they age and they age with dignity,” O’Connor said.
This Pride season, in which the LGBTQ+ community across the U.S. commemorates the start of the gay rights movement which began as a riot at the Stonewall Bar in New York City in 1969, the issue of our aging community is more at the fore than ever.
“A bunch of LGBTQ people were at a bar, and they got attacked and a year later was the first sort of protest – the first Pride ever and that’s only been 53 years now,” said Gia Drew, executive director of Equality Maine. “We’re saying, Hey wait a minute, we exist, we’re here, we deserve to be heard and we’re still hearing that from our community members who are still struggling,” she said.
It is projected that the project breaks ground in 2024 with construction on the building taking approximately two years before it is able to accept tenants.
Portland, Maine has a vibrant and visible LGBTQ community. Pride Portland!, which was on June 17, brings people in Greater Portland, Maine together for an annual parade and festival to gather and unite LGBTQ+ folks and their allies from the region, to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ movement, and to raise awareness of the community’s objectives and issues, according to the ECC.
For resources aimed at LGBTQ seniors living in Maine, please go here.